Saturday, July 7, 2018

Savoring Every Second at JWU

Hey everyone, I'm finally back! Over the past year, I have completed my first year at Johnson and Wales University in Providence, Rhode Island. What an unforgettable experience full of so many new and exciting culinary ventures. If I explained my entire first year experience with you all in full detail, this blog post would be extremely long, so I'll summarize without leaving anything out!
First, let me go over what I'm studying incase you weren't here for the last blog post. I'm a Culinary Arts Bachelor's Program student, and I plan on also graduating with a Master's degree. I started my journey last fall as an Early Enrollment student, where I finished my senior year of high school while completing my first year of college at the same time! I'm beyond thankful I was able to be a part of this great program. Currently, I am sophomore status and will be junior status by this winter. I can't believe how fast time is flying by!

Let's rewind to when I first moved to Providence, Rhode Island. My bags were packed, and I was surely packed with excitement, and of course, some nerves. Although moving away for the first time, and starting college is difficult, Johnson and Wales University made this adjustment so much easier. From all of the events in the beginning of the year to acquaint fellow students, to the craft skill sessions offered on the weekends. I remember walking into a JWU kitchen in the Cuisinart Center for Culinary Excellence for the first time with my friend to attend a fish taco skills class, and feeling on top of the world. Words can explain how happy and at home I felt. 

Shortly after starting in the fall, I was reached out to and joined the Johnson and Wales E-Cat team, where I cover events live on social media, along with writing articles for the JWU Culinary Now Blog, and JWU Admissions. I've loved every second of being apart of this incredible team.

Now let's fast forward to when I started my freshman labs during the winter trimester, and spring trimester. Over the course of these two trimesters, I completed 10 culinary labs with the most amazing "lab family" ever. Each lab is about 6 hours long, and equips you with so much skill and knowledge. One of my favorite lab experiences was in Cooking in the Global Marketplace with Chef Matthew Britt. I pushed myself everyday to challenge myself and learn new techniques every second. Another lab that was so interesting and fun was Exploring Beverages with Mr. Robert Weill, where I learned the craft of mixology, along with focusing on wine and beer production and tasting. 
Along with learning about the back of the house, I experienced front of the house training in a dining room course with Instructor Mrs. Mary Bodensiek. It was so amazing to learn all about what takes place and how service in a fine dining establishment is executed. There's so much hard work and effort given from the front of the house to create an effortless and perfect experience for the guests.

I will say, although I loved every minute of labs, they were far from easy. Some days were rougher then others; sometimes dishes didn't turned out as planned, line service wasn't as organized as it could've been. Nevertheless, all of these experiences, good and bad, equipped me with knowledge of what to do and what not to do in the future. 

I wouldn't change these chef whites and houndstooth pants for anything else. I love what I do. 

Thank you to everyone- all of the amazing chef instructors, the best lab family ever, my amazing friends, and the E-Cat team. Can't wait to see you all soon! 

Friday, August 18, 2017

Jamaican-Jerk Grilled Chicken Salad with a Lime Vinaigrette

I can't believe we are almost through the whole month of August! This year has flown by so quickly. I am so excited and ready to further pursue my culinary dreams this September at Johnson and Wales University. I have all of my chef whites and houndstooth pants pressed and ready to go! I can't wait to gain new culinary experiences, and have an amazing school year!  
This salad is so delicious! It's so tasty and full of flavors, as well as low-carb and really good-for-you. The grilled chicken is seasoned with an aromatic Jamaican jerk spice blend, which includes cinnamon, onion powder, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, paprika, salt, black pepper, and a little bit of nutmeg. This crisp and light salad will be the perfect addition to your summertime menu! 
Onto the recipe!

Jamaican-Jerk Grilled Chicken Salad with a Lime Vinaigrette (serves 2)

  • 4 cups mixed salad greens (I used kale, and spring mix)
  • 2 chicken breasts each seasoned with Jamaican jerk seasoning blend (1/2 tbsp. cinnamon, 1/2 tbsp. garlic powder, 1/2 tbsp. onion powder, 2 tsp. cayenne pepper, 1 tbsp. paprika, and a couple pinches of black pepper, salt, and nutmeg.)
  • Avocado oil, to brush on chicken breasts
  • 1 nectarine, thinly sliced
  • 1 avocado, halved and sliced
  • 2 roma tomatoes, medium diced
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 cup avocado oil
  • 1 tablespoon raw honey
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • lime wedges, for garnish
  • chopped cilantro, for garnish
First, we are going to make the simple lime vinaigrette. Whisk together the lime juice and raw honey in a small bowl. Slowly stream and whisk in the avocado oil until emulsified. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Wrap and place in fridge until ready to use.

Preheat your grill to medium-high heat. Brush seasoned chicken breasts with avocado oil. Grill on each side for about 4-6 minutes. If you want to create crisscross grill marks, move chicken breasts on the grill in a different direction, creating the crisscross marks. Once the chicken has finished on the grill, remove and slice on an angle.

Time to assemble! Top greens with a row of sliced avocado, then nectarines, then chicken, tomatoes, cilantro, and drizzle on the lime vinaigrette. Garnish with lime wedge. Enjoy!


Thursday, July 20, 2017

Thai Basil & Mint Chicken Brown Rice Pasta

Happy Thursday! I hope you've been having an amazing summer!
It has been so hot outside lately- today, the temperature reached 95 degrees! This type of weather calls for a light, refreshing, and wholesome dinner. This gluten-free Thai basil and mint chicken pasta is so delicious! Fresh mint, Thai basil, lime juice, and pineapple adds a refreshing summer twist on this dish. 
Let's get to cooking!

Thai Basil & Mint Chicken Brown Rice Pasta (serves 8 or a hungry family of 4)

  • 16 oz. brown rice pasta 
  • 2 lbs. ground chicken
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh Thai basil
  • 1/2 cup fresh lime juice
  • 8 oz. cherry tomatoes, sliced lengthwise
  • 1 red onion, medium diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 8 oz. diced pineapple
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • sesame oil, to coat pan or wok
  • chopped toasted cashews, to garnish 
  • lime wedges, to garnish
Bring a pot of salted water  to a boil. Once the water has reached a rapid boil, add brown rice pasta, reduce to medium-high heat, and cook until tender, about 13-15 minutes. Drain in a colander and set aside.

While the pasta is cooking, lightly coat a wok or pan with sesame oil. Once hot, add in onions and garlic. Saute until translucent over medium-high heat. Add in basil and mint and stir. Now add in ground chicken and season with salt and pepper. Once the chicken is almost fully cooked, add in lime juice, pineapple, and cherry tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper. Let mixture come to a slight boil, then add in cooked pasta. Stir to coat pasta with chicken and sauce, and serve! Garnish with cashews and lime wedge.



Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Special Edition Blog Post: My Year in Review at OCVTS

I usually only post my recipes to this blog, but since tomorrow is the first day of summer, I wanted to share with you all my amazing experience this year at Ocean County Vocational Technical School's Culinary Arts Program.
This year has definitely been one I will never forget! Every day at OCVTS I learned something new, and enjoyed every second of class. I started my year off by learning how to work the front of the house in the dining room with Chef Bruce. I discovered, by being in this class, that I love the hospitality aspect in the culinary arts field! 
After learning about working the front of the house, I baked many delicious treats in the bakery with Chef Jill and Chef Dennis! Lastly, I finished the year by being in the place that I love the most: the kitchen! Chef Rose Anne was the instructor for this class. In this class, I improved my knife skills, learned various cooking techniques, cooked for breakfast banquets, and cooked on the line for afternoon lunches.
Everyone at OCVTS, including the instructors, faculty, and staff are so talented in their fields and are so encouraging to the students. Thank you Chef Bruce, Chef Jill, Chef Rose Anne, Chef John, Chef Dennis, Chef Gary, Chef Kevin, and Chef Joe! I can't speak highly enough about this school and how amazing all of the programs are! 
This fall, I will be attending Johnson and Wales University, to pursue a degree in Culinary Arts! I was accepted into this program a year early! I will be sharing updates on what I am cooking and experiencing during my time at Johnson and Wales here on this blog!


Monday, June 12, 2017

Simple Gluten-Free Fried Chicken & Waffle Sandwich

Happy Monday! I hope your week is off to a great start.
I can't believe we are already into the month of June! I am loving this beautiful weather; summer is definitely on it's way! This gluten-free fried chicken and waffle sandwich topped with a creamy cajun aioli is sure to become your summer staple! It's not only delicious, but easy-to-make and gluten-free as well! The one ingredient that makes this dish perfectly complete is the raw honey- it adds the perfect amount of sweetness to this savory and spicy dinner!
Let's get to cooking!

Simple Gluten-Free Fried Chicken & Waffle Sandwich (serves 4)

  • 1 lb. chicken tenders
  • 1 cup gluten-free all purpose flour blend (seasoned with 1 teaspoon paprika, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, 1 teaspoon onion powder, 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper, salt, and pepper, to taste.)
  • 1 cup buttermilk 
  • avocado oil, to fry in cast iron pan
  • 8 gluten-free waffles 
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise 
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning blend
  • 8 butter lettuce leaves
  • 1 cup sliced multicolored tomatoes
  • raw honey, to drizzle on waffles
First, we are going to make the aioli. Whisk together the mayonnaise, lemon juice, and Cajun seasoning. Wrap and place in fridge until ready to use.

Prepare flour mixture. Add chicken tenders into a bowl with buttermilk, then dredge in the flour blend.

Coat a cast iron pan with avocado oil, about 1/4 inch up the sides, over medium-high heat. Once hot, add chicken tenders and fry on each side for about 5-6 minutes, or until golden brown and fully cooked. Repeat steps until all chicken tenders are fried and crispy!

Time to assemble! Spread about 1 tablespoon on a piece of waffle, then top with a piece of fried chicken, butter lettuce, and sliced tomatoes. Top with another waffle to create a sandwich, then drizzle with raw honey! Serve and enjoy!


Thursday, May 25, 2017

Dairy-Free Creamed Spinach

Happy Thursday! I hope you all are having an awesome week! 
I can't believe we have less then a month until Summer! This year flew by so quick! I have been working on so many recipes that I cannot wait to share on here. This dairy-free creamed spinach is the perfect side dish to accompany a delicious main entree! It is so creamy and flavorful- you will have a hard time believing it is dairy-free! 
Let's get to cooking!

Dairy-Free Creamed Spinach (yields 4 large ramekins)

  • 1 lb baby spinach
  • olive oil, to grease pan 
  • 4 shallots, minced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 14-ounces coconut cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper 
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon white pepper
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 cup gluten-free breadcrumbs
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease four ramekins with olive oil.

Heat olive oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Once hot, add shallots and garlic. Saute for about 2-3 minutes. Add in spinach, and cook until wilted down, about 4-5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

While you are cooking the spinach, heat coconut cream in a small pot over medium heat. Season with cayenne pepper, white pepper, paprika, salt, and pepper. Stir occasionally until it comes to a slow boil. Remove from heat.

Once the spinach is almost done, add in coconut cream. Stir and cook until the mixture comes to a slow boil.

Heat about a tablespoon of olive oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add in breadcrumbs and stir to coat in olive. Cook until toasted and golden-brown.

Divide creamed spinach mixture among four large ramekins. Top with gluten-free breadcrumbs. Bake for about 12 minutes. Serve and enjoy!


Friday, April 28, 2017

Mozzarella, Tomato, & Prosciutto Skewers with a Basil Vinaigrette

Happy Friday! I hope you all have an amazing weekend.
These mozzarella, tomato, and prosciutto skewers are the perfect healthy spring snack, or light lunch! They are so light and fresh! Beware though, it is really hard to only eat one! Not only are these skewers delicious, they are super simple to make as well! You only need 7 ingredients (excluding salt & pepper) and a dozen bamboo skewers! 
Onto the recipe! 

Mozzarella, Tomato, & Prosciutto Skewers with a Basil Vinaigrette (yields 12 skewers)

  • 12 bamboo skewers
  • 2 dozen  mini mozzarella balls 
  • 2 dozen cherry tomatoes
  • 8 ounces prosciutto, sliced and rolled up
  • 1 bunch fresh basil leaves 
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped basil
  • 1 cup EVOO 
  • 1/3 cup champagne vinegar
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • salt and pepper, to taste
First we are going to prepare the vinaigrette. Whisk together vinegar, garlic, chopped basil, salt, and pepper. Stream in olive oil, whisking constantly until emulsified.

Time to make the skewers! First, slide on a tomato, then mozzarella, then prosciutto, basil, and repeat one more time. Drizzle with vinaigrette. Serve and enjoy!